Letters to Nature

Nature 434, 505-509 (24 March 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature03380; Received 8 December 2004; Accepted 21 January 2005

There is a Brief Communications Arising (1 September 2005) associated with this document.

There is a Brief Communications Arising (1 September 2005) associated with this document.

There is a Brief Communications Arising (28 September 2006) associated with this document.

There is a Brief Communications Arising (28 September 2006) associated with this document.

Genome-wide non-mendelian inheritance of extra-genomic information in Arabidopsis

Susan J. Lolle1,2, Jennifer L. Victor1, Jessica M. Young1 & Robert E. Pruitt2

  1. Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, 915 W. State Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2054, USA
  2. These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to: Robert E. Pruitt2 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to R.E.P. (Email: pruittr@purdue.edu).

A fundamental tenet of classical mendelian genetics is that allelic information is stably inherited from one generation to the next, resulting in predictable segregation patterns of differing alleles1. Although several exceptions to this principle are known, all represent specialized cases that are mechanistically restricted to either a limited set of specific genes (for example mating type conversion in yeast2) or specific types of alleles (for example alleles containing transposons3 or repeated sequences4). Here we show that Arabidopsis plants homozygous for recessive mutant alleles of the organ fusion gene HOTHEAD 5 (HTH) can inherit allele-specific DNA sequence information that was not present in the chromosomal genome of their parents but was present in previous generations. This previously undescribed process is shown to occur at all DNA sequence polymorphisms examined and therefore seems to be a general mechanism for extra-genomic inheritance of DNA sequence information. We postulate that these genetic restoration events are the result of a template-directed process that makes use of an ancestral RNA-sequence cache.

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